Get out the limbo stick! Let's measure just how low Marion Williams can go.
In claiming he had illicitly obtained information from city Administrator Fred Russell's computer hard drive, the Augusta commissioner revealed himself to be either a liar or a thief.
It now appears he was an unrepentant liar: An investigation into the alleged theft by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office revealed no security breach and no hard-drive copying.
Meanwhile, Williams, a two-term commissioner leaving office at the end of the year, finally was called to account for $2,663.66 in unpaid property taxes, after citizens group CSRA Help began investigating whether he was holding office illegally for being delinquent.
Officials told the Chronicle editorial department this past week that it appears he broke no oath of office, though CSRA Help disagrees and is pursuing the matter in court.
Regardless, what a horrible example he has set.
Williams only raised eyebrows higher Thursday when he announced that some mystery person had been dispatched by him to pay his taxes for him.
As a politician and sitting member of the Augusta Commission, it would be entirely unethical and quite possibly illegal for Williams to allow someone else to pay his taxes.
He needs to reveal who it was and whose money it was.
Or he needs to be forced to reveal it.
We had been wondering about the CSRA Help court action - whether it was worth going after Williams, given that he will leave office none too soon. But it appears the combative, uncooperative Williams will continue to distract and derail the community's efforts to move ahead each and every day he remains in office. What a horrible shame.
Consider the time and attention he has drawn to himself just over the hard-drive affair. It was energy the city could have focused on providing his constituents, and everyone else in Augusta, a better quality of life. But he chose to lie through his teeth and create yet another time-wasting imbroglio, the kind of which he seems to draw nourishment from.
Consider, too, the finite and precious resources he stole from the sheriff's department. Several investigators spent days interviewing computer personnel and others in the city government to determine the possibility of Williams having received bootleg information from Russell's hard drive. It's possible, God forbid, that some crime went undetected or unresolved due directly to Williams' lies and dereliction of duty.
Again, what a shame and a tragic waste. When Williams ascended to the position of mayor pro tem in January 2005, we heralded the moment as a potential for great change and improvement in the city. Considering Williams' well-earned reputation for confounding, we opined that, with a little good will on his part, as mayor pro tem, "perhaps no one in the community has the opportunity that Marion Williams does to serve as a bridge to the future." Indeed, at the time, he promised "even those who didn't vote for me" that "I'm still their mayor pro tem. I'm going to support them and help them as much as I can."
How sad. He lied back then, too.